Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington looks over some early precinct results at the Board of Elections office on Parker Road.
CONYERS -- In a race too close to call Tuesday, Republican Sheriff Jeff Wigington held a razor thin margin over Democratic challenger Eric Levett.
The race for tax commissioner was also close, with Democratic challenger RJ Hadley holding a 350-vote advantage over incumbent Republican Dan Ray, who is seeking his sixth term in office.
Wigington, who is seeking his fifth term as sheriff, ended the vote count Tuesday night with 49.98 percent of the vote compared to Levett's 49.93 percent, a difference of 18 votes.
Cynthia Welch, Rockdale's supervisor of elections, said provisional and military ballots were yet to be counted before the voting record is completed. She said that should be finished by Wednesday afternoon.
Once those ballots are counted, if the losing candidate is within 1 percent of the winning candidate, there will be an automatic recount, Welch said. "We'll know Friday if we need a recount," she said.
The final results will be known before Tuesday, she said.
"Even though Monday is a holiday, we may be working on a recount in order to meet the certification deadline on Tuesday," Welch added.
Wigington said he was not surprised that the race was close.
"I thought it would be close; I didn't know how close or the end result," he said. "I was actually very shocked about some of the other races."
Wigington added that he is satisfied with the campaign effort and will be fine either way the election turns out.
"We worked hard; I'm blessed either way," he said. "I'm going to be fine, but I do worry about the people who work at the Sheriff's Office.
"I do want to thank all the folks who have worked so hard for me," he added. "Keep the Sheriff's Office in your prayers."
Levett also said he anticipated a close race.
"I still feel hopeful," he said. "I feel that the citizens of Rockdale County are speaking. I feel that we are going to have to sit back and wait until the end."
Levett, who said during the campaign that being elected sheriff would fulfill a life-long dream for him, said he felt he ran a positive campaign.
"I made a promise that I would keep my campaign clean and run a positive campaign, and if we have to have a recount I will continue to run a clean campaign and continue to make sure that the citizens of Rockdale County know that I have their best interests at heart," he said.
In the race for tax commissioner, Hadley finished with 50.45 percent of the vote, compared to Ray's 49.5 percent.
Welch said once provisional and military votes are counted, there may also be a need for a recount in that election.
Ray seemed doubtful of a recount Tuesday night.
"Obviously I am disappointed, but the people have spoken and they are ready for a change evidently," Ray said. "So good luck to Mr. Hadley. There are a lot of changes coming with motor vehicle (taxes), so he will have a lot to keep him busy come January."
Hadley, who previously served as chief of staff for Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
In the race for coroner, Democrat George Levett received 56.53 percent of the votes compared to 43.42 percent for Republican Jo Coggins.
Levett and Coggins, who both work for the Rockdale County Coroner's Office, were each seeking to fill the seat held by Dr. Stephen Boyle. Boyle did not seek re-election.
"I'm surprised. I'm excited. This really is a bittersweet victory. I was hoping my mom would live long enough to see me win, so it's bittersweet and (I'm) just really looking forward to serving as coroner for Rockdale County," said Levett, whose mother died three days ago.
"I want to thank all of the voters who had the confidence in me to vote for me. I plan to serve them in a professional and faithful manner."